Perfect swarm: Consumers head back to the shops as investors target Queensland

Key economic indicators have pointed to a surging economy in Queensland as consumers returned to the shops and investors poured into the housing market.


May 04, 2022, updated May 04, 2022
Discretionary spending is drying up (Photo: AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts)

Discretionary spending is drying up (Photo: AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts)

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics Australian retail turnover rose 1.6 per cent in March 2022, reaching a new record level.

Queensland’s retail sales were up 3.4 per cent signalling a rebound from the floods.

Home loan commitments to investors grew in every state in March but the highest growth was in Queensland at 6.7 per cent. The Australian Bureau of Statistics data showed investors took out commitments worth $2.4 billion in March in Queensland, a rise of 75 per cent on the same time last year.

In contrast, owner occupier loans dipped 7 per cent to $3.9 billion and first home buyers are rapidly leaving the market.

Cconomist James Foster said investor sentiment had been “on a long upswing, rising in 20 of the past 22 months” in Australia.

It follows reports of continued price growth for houses in Brisbane while Sydney and Melbourne have started to fall.

Investor loans nationwide were up almost 50 per cent on the same time last year. That may help the rental crisis which has hit all states. Vacancy rates in Brisbane are at 0.7 per cent.

ANZ said it expected household savings buffers and increases in household incomes to offset inflation and early cash rate impacts in the headline retail data.

Real Estate Institute of Queensland chief executive Antonia Mercorella said consumer confidence was important and yesterday’s rate hike would “make people stop and think more carefully about how much they are prepared to borrow”.

“We remain confident in the resilience of the Queensland market because the need and demand for housing is irrespective and an interest rate rise simply causes people to rethink what they are prepared to spend and how big a loan they are prepared to enter into,” she said.

The value of all new housing loan commitments rose 1.6 per cent to $33.3 billion in March. This followed a fall of 3.5 per cent in February, after reaching a record high of $33.9 billion in January.

Owner occupier housing finance in Queensland in March was $8.9 billion, a significant increase on the February level of $7.3 billion but still below the peak of $10.6 billion in March 2021.

There was a slight uptick in first home buyer commitments in Queensland to just over $2 billion, well down on $3.4 billion in February 2021.

The State Government also announced that 118 new social and affordable homes would be built on Brisbane’s northside, including a project at Redcliffe that will have 84 single bedroom apartments.

ABS director of quarterly economy wide statistics Ben James said the retail trade result was up 0.8 per cent on the previous record level set in November 2021. This follows a 1.8 per cent rise in February 2022, a 1.6 per cent rise in January 2022 and a fall of 4.1 per cent in December 2021.

“Rising prices, combined with the continued easing of restrictions across the country has led to rises in turnover in all three months of the March quarter,” he said.

“Consumer spending rose across both discretionary and non-discretionary industries.  Following flooding in late February and early March along the east coast, impacted businesses regained lost turnover from forced closures as consumers restocked pantries.”

Leading the increase across all industries was household goods retailing, up 3.4 per cent, followed by other retailing (2.0 per cent), cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services (2.0 per cent), department stores (4.1 per cent), food retailing (0.5 per cent) and clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing (0.5 per cent).

Every state and territory saw a rise in retail sales except for South Australia, with turnover down 0.7 per cent.

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